Ear wax is the oily substance produced by glands near the entrance of your ear canals. The purpose of this wax (also called cerumen) is to lubricate and protect the ear canals – trapping any foreign materials that enter the ear. The skin inside your ear canals is constantly growing (at around the same rate as your fingernails). As the skin grows, it acts like a conveyor belt – carrying ear wax outward,
taking with it any dirt, dust, and any other material that may have gathered in the canal.
Some people produce more ear wax than others. The amount of ear wax you produce depends on several factors, such as your age, diet, lifestyle and shape of your ear canals.
Ear wax is perfectly natural and it should not usually be removed. However, some people produce excessive ear wax which can lead to discomfort and dulled hearing – as the excess wax blocks the ear canal and prevents incoming sounds from reaching the eardrum. When ear wax becomes a problem, it should be removed by a professional.
Do not attempt to remove ear wax on your own! The use of “cotton buds” and other utilities for removing ear wax can result in damage to the ears, and often only leads to the wax being pushed further into the ear canal.
If you experience pain or discomfort in your ears, or if you feel that your hearing is dull, you should make an appointment to see your GP, who will be able to tell you if excessive ear wax is the problem and make arrangements it to be removed if necessary.
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